Thursday, June 27, 2013

Looking For A Sign




Recently the guys sent me a video of a pigeon who had nested in the sill of their window. Turns out she laid one egg.

It happened on the day we got our "Green Light" on everything that was holding us up. We decided this must be a good sign, and named the bird "Dena". As in, Pasadena... where we hope this mamma bird will have a good egg put in very soon.

This morning I woke up to this photo from the guys. Apparently Dena is having twins. Perhaps another sign.

The last time I made a post about my frustrations surrounding the surrogacy, it felt really good.. for about 4 hours. Then I regretted it. So I'm not going to do that again. I understand why our journey got off to a slow start, and it's for a VERY cool reason. So I'm glad it happened.

I'll try to focus on that while I take a double dose of humility and patience. Good things take time.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Down with DOMA

What a beautiful day in the United States. 


The US Supreme Court has decided that ALL Americans have the right to love and be married; REGARDLESS of who they love and marry.

I've said for a long time now that marriage is about (or at least should  be) what's in your heart, not what's in your pants.

Our Courts Agree


From this morning's decision: 


"The power the Constitution grants, it also restrains. And though Congress has great authority to design laws to fit its own conception of sound national policy, it cannot deny the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. 

What has been explained to this point should more than suffice to establish that the principal purpose and the necessary effect of this law are to demean those persons who are in a lawful same-sex marriage. This requires the Court to hold, as it now does, that DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution."


YES!

More from the Justices that I like: 


"The Constitution’s guarantee of equality “must at the very least mean that a bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot” justify disparate treatment of that group. …

The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others."



Find the entire decision here
And story highlights here


I have a very dear Aunt who is gay. She has bee in a committed monogamous relationship for closing on 20 years. Today she posted this on her Facebook wall:

Now I have equal rights. 
Thanks to all the people that have helped get this passed.
A time of joy.
I'm 59 and now have equal rights for the first time. Yea it has happened. DOMA has been struck down. Now to go after each state. My 19+ yr relationship now can be protected by federal law. Once MI law is revised we will get married legally.

My heart is so full for her. Being the hormonal wreck I am, I am actually darn near tears. Oh who am I kidding, I did cry. For her. For M&T that someday this may happen for THEM. For myself and all the allies who have been told we are wrong for our support. For everyone who won today. 

****Note****
I have a rule of no censorship on my blog. But, today is one time where I will edit comments left here. I know not everyone agrees with this ruling, and that it is a passion fueled debate. It probably always will be. But today I am celebrating equality and a victory for some of the people who matter most to me. Disrespectful comments will not be allowed. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hormonal. Bingo.

I am just one of those women who is incredibly in tune with her own body. I just know when stuff is up.

I knew I was pregnant with Adelia 2 weeks before my missed period. 
I knew I was pregnant with Emrys 1 week before my missed period. 

Both times I knew I was in labor at the earliest onset. Even when the doctors thought I was nuts. I just know my body well.

This means a few things.

#1 I rarely get PMS. I know what's coming and I can usually self regulate. 
#2 When I DO get PMS (Roughly 3 cycles a year) Plan a trip to Nepal. It's the only place on Earth you might be safe from my wrath. 

These are reasons Chris prefers me to not be on hormonal birth control methods. It throws my norm way off balance and can make me completely irrational. It's one reason we're both out and out dreading my hormone therapy.

Sure She LOOOKS Cute...
Unfortunately, this month is a PMS month. And I swear Emrys knows it. She is pushing every button I have and even finding some new ones. From playing in the toilet, to trying to snip her tongue off with finger nail clippers, to emptying her clothing cabinets.... I caught her grinding poptart into the carpet. She bit me. She knocked family pictures off the wall. On purpose. At least her room is clean, because she has no interest in her toys today.

So why share all this? It's a prelude to lead up to a fun conversation snippet from Chris and I. Now before you all read it and report me to Child Protective Services, or before M&T decide I'm a basketcase... know that I'd never do this- or anything else that would hurt my children. I rarely even punish them with more than an angry look. So here's the snippet:

Amanda: I'm about to punt Emrys like a damn football.
Christopher: Just make sure you keep the distance record.  Child punting could become a sport

Ah. Humor. Regulates the hormones. Makes me less crazy. It's why I love my husband.

So I hear Emrys grunting in her bedroom. Means she's probably removed her diaper... and is taking a deuce on the floor.

Until next time, friends.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Why Yes, I AM a Surrogate

I've been reluctant to remove my post in response to Rebecca Hamilton; who called me a prostitute. Fact is, I feel like it should stay front and center as long as it is getting massive page views.

But, my journey progresses, 

even when her hate doesn't.   

(Read my impassioned response here )


Tonight I had such a wonderful time with my new friend, Suzie. She started as my girls' nanny and has quickly become quite possibly my best friend in Washington. Something happened when she introduced me to her brother than I want to make note of here.

My Identity As A Surrogate

For a few weeks now, when the topic of my impending surrogacy comes up in conversation, I have said, "I am a surrogate" as opposed to "I am preparing to be a surrogate."

The change is nominal at best, so minor I doubt even my husband has noticed.

I have gone from applying and hoping, to a real surrogate. The words don't even ring true to me just yet. But tonight, when I walked into Suzie's place and she introduced me as, "This is my surrogate friend" it became so clear to me.

People are defining ME by this CHOICE

To those around me; I AM a surrogate. I AM already doing something amazing. Something life changing. Something that defines a life.

Suzie isn't the first to note me as "my surrogate friend." In fact, to many of my Washington friends who know much less of me; this is often the superlative of which I am introduced and most often identified.


And makes me so proud. 



Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Pissed Off Prostitute. In Response to Rebecca Hamilton

I posted a controversial blog on my Facebook timeline this morning. In the blog, the author accuses surrogates of being prostitutes. She really doesn't think we're money hungry; just low income and uneducated victims. She really feels quite sorry for us thoughtless followers being led absent minded into a terrible, terrible decision.

Here's a link to the blog in question: 
By Rebecca Hamilton. 

First up; look lady... 

I've been called a lot of things in my day. Oddly enough, prostitute or some synonym may have been one of them (college...yeesh...) But one thing I have never, EVER been accused of being is a follower. Much less an unintelligent follower failing to possess the wits to make my own decisions. I dare say many of my surrogate counterparts fall into the same category.

What Ms. Hamilton fails to understand, in my opinion, is that surrogacy is such a selfless choice. Yes, it is so rewarding and enriching. I am proud to be able to give my children a first hand experience in compassion and love. I am proud that my husband supports my choice. I am proud of myself. BUT.... this decision comes with many a cost. These include:


  • Missing holidays with family (since I cant travel for a large part of the journey)
  • Unexpected overnight trips away from my kids (Because who knows when my uterine lining will be just right)
  • Weight gain. A lot of weight gain. 
  • Stretch marks
  • Saggy boobs
  • Emotional distress- though emotional rewards come as well. 
  • Injections... self given... into my ass... daily... 
  • Limiting my travel plans
  • No new tattoos
  • No smoking or alcohol consumption (for those who do that outside of surrogacy)
  • Possible family dissent
  • Possible public scrutiny (reference mentioned blog) 



The list really goes on and on. Talk to any surrogate about her "compensation" package and you're likely to get momma bear really fired up. Most of us won't even tell you what the package includes.
This lack of sharing isn't because we're ashamed; 
it's because we're offended
Not a one of us chooses to walk this journey for financial gain. To suggest as much is infuriating and offensive. It makes you look ignorant, just so you know.

So why DO we do this? It differs for every surrogate. Readers of this blog know I felt a pull from God to do this. To help His kingdom.

Despite the blogger's infuriating words, I must continue to maintain my Journalistic oath (self imposed) from French Philosopher Voltaire, "I may not agree with a word you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Which brings me to my next point; censorship.

Ms. Hamilton will only post criticism and response to her article once she reads and approves of the comments. You won't find said limitations here folks. Flame away; I can take it.  I believe in and respect strong willed and worded people. I lose all respect when you exhibit your ability to dish out freedom of speech, but duck and cover when it comes to receiving freedom of speech in response.

Perhaps what has me most worked up over her post is not that she is calling me a prostitute, M&T "Johns" and Growing Generations my "pimp" as much as it is her flagrant disregard for educating herself before preaching about the missing virtues of myself, my IF's and my agency. To suggest we poor unfortunate surrogate souls haven't the faintest idea of what we're getting ourselves into...Wrong again, Ms. Hamilton.

Most surrogates are incredibly self informed. Those who are not well informed at the onset of surrogacy sure are informed by the time we sign legal contracts and begin medications. In fact for some of us, myself included, the journey TO surrogacy is long and research intense. I waited THREE YEARS just to be able to apply for the chance to become a surrogate. Don't pity my misinformation, Ma'am.

To suggest intended parents arrive at surrogacy as an easy way out of pregnancy and into parenthood is heartbreakingly cruel. I've not encountered a set of Intended Parents (heterosexual or homosexual) who don't wish they could be the ones carrying their own child. This is a difficult decision for them. A painful one. They want a baby. Not to victimize a surrogate. They'd have the baby themselves if they could. Your words are uninformed and hurtful.

Surrogates are not ill witted, under educated, poverty stricken victims, ma'am. (Most agencies have catches to weed out those types of applicants anyway, which you'd know had you done your research...) What we are is strong willed, independent, whole hearted compassionate women willing to sacrifice our time, our bodies and at times our families to help others grow their families.


You keep hiding behind your keyboard.

I'll keep helping 
DESERVING 
couples make families. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

So What's Included in A Surrogacy Contract?

So I spent a good amount of time last night reading the contract. I wanted to take it slow and make sure I let everything sink in. Truth is, I trust M&T. I trust GG. But this is no small thing I am taking on, and I want to be as well informed as I can be.

After about a paragraph of reading I had a very surreal moment of "This is Real." It felt kind of cool. Very long awaited.

Most of the contract was spot on what I expected. No travel outside of 50 miles post 24 weeks, I can't have an abortion on a whim, no smoking, no drinking and must surrender at birth. It's funny, because these clauses are put in for the protection of the IPs, and I'm like yes, MUST surrender at time of birth. That means they MUST take at time of birth ;)

There were a few things that had never crossed my mind. Like the clause stating that CHRIS can't get a tattoo during the pregnancy. But luckily, even though he's always wanted one, he will now have an excuse for his indecision and put off the decision for a bit longer. :)

What else what else... Oh, turns out I am not allowed to leave the country without consent from the guys. I have a  trip already planned... but I am pretty sure it will be fine with them. Funny things we never anticipated though.

I have a few questions on what denotes "strenuous exercise" and will take those up with the law firm later this week, but I am on course for a signed agreement. I think this keeps us on task for our August transfer.

Monday, June 17, 2013

It's HerrrRRRReeee

Just got the draft of my legal contract.

Time to act all smurt and stuff and see what all I can understand and what not.

EXCITED.

Father's Day, and my Uterus's legal matters

Hello Blogger world. I have been away for quite some time. A big no no in the blogging world. Suppose I am lucky you haven't all lost interest and deserted me, eh?

Truth is, my absence can't even be blamed on a lack of activity in my journey. A lot has happened actually. I've just been busy with other life events and have been kept at bay. We bought a travel trailer and have been camping a lot. My in laws just spent a week in town. My father is coming in a month. The list goes on and on.

So what IS happening with my uterus? Well right now it is the subject of a pending legal agreement. That's right, we've progressed to the legal phase of this journey. But that is a subject more deserving of it's own post, and I will write more on that later.

This year father's day snuck up on me. I am ashamed to say I sent no cards to my own father, father in law, uncle or even my husband. Ooops. Sometimes as a minimalist these hallmark holidays just slip right under my radar. I did however find a super cute "dad to be" card a while back and sent it to M&T. Of that I was proud...

Until they informed me that in Australia Father's Day isn't until September. DOH!  Sigh, and strike 4? OK, I'll just call this year a loss. The guys were very polite and appreciative of my gesture though. So I guess the point was delivered effectively? Albeit a few months too early?

So, in the coming days you can expect more notes from me on the legal proceedings of my uterus. We're still on track for a mid to late August embryo transfer though. Hooray!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Pregnancy Aint All Pretty.. Neither is Justin Bieber.

So today I was explaining the mucus plug to M. He's a good sport, and allowed me to share a screen grab of his reaction: 






JUST KIDDING! 

This is a screen grab from his reaction to Justin Bieber's "As Long as You Love Me" 
For your pleasure: Follow this link to the song.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

From Nothing...

To a whole lot of something.

Not long after my online vent session about the apparent lack of forward motion I received an email from Amy, my Growing Generations contact. Seems like my patience had expired about the exact moment the next steps were ready to be taken.

We are now ready to start legal. The process can range from 3-6 weeks in length, depending on how many (if any) revisions are requested to our contract. Either side can request changes. Either side can put the contract on top of the microwave and forget it exists for a couple of days. Though, I really don't think that would happen in this case, eh guys? ;)

So what does the contract cover? Truth is I wont know for 100% until I receive it. I am expecting it to talk about pregnancy specific issues as well as post birth processes. For example, I know that I will be unable to travel more than 50 miles from my delivery hospital after 24 weeks of gestation. Wild, huh?

Know what else was wild? Scheduling a conference call between the East Coast, the West Coast, and the Australian Coast. It was before sunrise for the guys, the end of the work day for GG, and mid afternoon for me. But, we all made it! With only mild interference from Adelia and Strawberry Shortcake.

One more thing before I go... 

I genuinely wanted to take a moment to apologize to Amy, M, &T and anyone else who may have become offended or hurt by my impatience and frustration at the last post. Grandma always said, "Patience is a virtue. It's a virtue that Mandy wants RIGHT NOW!!!!" Looks like I still have some work to do on my patience.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Next Ice Age is Coming

And at the rate this surrogacy is moving, it will pass before I get pregnant.

I am frustrated. I feel like the professional thing to do is to NOT post it here in a public forum. But not sharing ALL of this experience is not the honest thing to do. So, I'm going to share my frustrations.

I belong to a group on Facebook with is only open to other Growing Generations surrogates. It's a great support system, and I love being a part of it. It's fun to see baby bumps grow, to welcome new surrogates who are where I have been, and get advice from other surrogates who are where I hope to be someday. I love the birth stories and photos of surrobabies.

But, it makes me jealous. I have watched other girls go through screening, matching and now are starting meds and talking about their transfer dates. They're talking about peeing on sticks. And here I sit, feeling like the fat kid at dodgeball. I got picked up by an agent, someone picked me for their team, but my official position is bench rider. Maybe cheerleader. While trying to not to be self centered, my inner child is yelling, "HEY!! OVER HERE!! WHAT ABOUT ME??"

I asked Growing Generations for an update on my case. I was replied to with a form email talking about preparing for transfers. No personal touch. And information that is completely irrelevant to me right now, because we still have legal to get through ad meds to start before we can even think about the transfer. So that was basically a dud.

So I vented my concerns on the Facebook group. I didn't like what I heard there either. They told me that it is plenty common for a year to pass between matching and first transfer.

A YEAR. 

I feel like I need to say that again. 

A YEAR. 
12 MONTHS. 
365 DAYS. 


My first thought was, you've got to be kidding, right? Nope, not kidding at all. Here's the thing. I've ALREADY been waiting. For three years. I've wanted to do this since 2010. It's just only now happening. The idea that another entire year- or more- could pass before we even try to get pregnant is... well, I'd say disheartening but that's a lie. It's out and out depressing.

You ask, what takes so long? The academic answer is that egg donors change their minds, lawyers are in no rush, our bodies don't always cooperate... the list of quagmires that can exist goes on and on. What can I do about it?

Not a damn thing. 


Anyone who knows me knows that the above stated answer is probably the largest reason I am grinding my teeth over this. I am not a natural follower. I am a leader with every cell of my being. There is nothing that I can do to help move things in the direction that I want them to go.

So where does this leave me? Well, I'm feeling a few things.

#1- Is this really the thing I want to do? Do I really want to commit to more YEARS of my life spent just trying to do this thing? Before you start sweating bullets M&T, the answer is a clear yes. Of course this is what I want to do. I won't back out. I Promise.

#2- I'm thankful for the budding and wonderful relationship I have with you, M &T. Thank you for giving me the freedom to express these concerns. And I'm thankful for the open relationship that we have, because I feel like I know that you're experiencing the same frustrations as me.

#3- I'm a little bit angry. I feel like volunteering my body for this wonderful gift is a huge sacrifice. And that asking me to continue to keep my and my families life in a holding pattern for an infinite and undefinable period of time is jut a bit rude. I'd love to go get a new tattoo. I've wanted it for 5 years. But I'm not doing it because it's against the surrogacy rules. I'm on the pill. I hate being on the pill. I'm doing it because it's the surrogacy rules. These are sacrifices I'm more than happy to make, to help a family have a baby. But it's frustrating to feel like there is no end in sight, and these sacrifices don't matter to anyone but me.

If nothing else, it'd be nice to get an update from someone somewhere about what the hold up is. Why I haven't even heard from legal. If I could feel like there was progress being made I think I'd feel better. But for all I know my file just fell off someone's desk and has not been missed yet.

I wish that all angles of this blog and this journey were happy ones. But I knew they wouldn't be. This is part of the process, and I know that. But it doesn't mean I'm going to shoot rainbows out of my behind over it either.

***UPDATE***

About 5 minutes after posting this I heard from my case worker at GG. We have progressed to legal. More on what this means tomorrow. I wont delete this post... because I was really frustrated. But to be fair to GG, They have updated me on where we are now. And that's all I was after in the first place.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Well, I Tried to be Kind

I recently told Chris that now that we aren't in danger of going bankrupt every week (thank you, Inrix) I wanted to begin to help others a bit more. I have a strict policy of never giving homeless or beggars money, because we work hard for our income and I don't want to give it away when I don't KNOW it's helping. So I decided that sometime when we're on our way out to eat and see a homeless person, I will invite them to dine with us. It's a good Christian plan, and I felt proud of my resolve.

Today I got my first chance to put my money where my mouth was.

We stopped into McDonalds after a grueling morning of house hunting for a quick snack. In front of us in line was a man old enough to be my grandpa. He was wearing a thick down coat despite the beautiful day. The coat was held together by electrical tape and duct tape. His clothes were falling off of him. This blue eyes and thin hands reminded me of my grandpa, who I have been missing so terribly.

I watched this man order just one cheeseburger off the dollar menu, and pay with a weathered dollar bill and ten pennies. It broke my heart.

Since he was ahead of us in line I didn't get the chance to pay FOR his food, but I did want to help. I asked Chris if it'd be OK for me to buy him a gift card, for his next meal. Of course Chris said yes. So I got my family settled and went back through the line to buy the gift card. I kept nervously glancing at the man, worried he'd leave before I made my way through the terribly slow line.

Luckily he ate his cheeseburger with a spoon, and very slowly at that.

I approached his table with a smile on my lips and filling my heart. I was finally able to help my fellow man. I was being a good Christian.

I said, "Hello there. I don't mean to intrude, but I was hoping you'd let my husband and I buy your next cheeseburger." I smiled, set the card on the table and lingered just a moment. He smiled at me but said nothing. I walked away.

It was just a moment in time. But it made me feel so good.

Back at my own table, my girls needed a napkin for ketchup overdose. I ran from the play place back to the drink station inside to get some napkins. Along the way I noticed my wonderfully generous gift had been flung.. in my direction.

I stopped, picked up the gift card and put it in my wallet. Spirit busted.

I'm not sure if the penny pincher in me should feel glad that I'm out no money for my good deed... or offended... or sheepish that I offended him.

Whatever I should or shouldn't feel, there is one thing I know for certain. I am becoming the person God wants me to be. A this sort of thing, no matter how it wound up, would have made my grandparents very proud. And that's enough for me.